Amazing Amazon.

Founder Jeff Bezos has much to answer for. Among the bouquets are countless brickbats. Numerically, financial failures have exceeded successes.

Few people have heard of the Fire phone. Even fewer bought one. Entry into the highly competitive, sophisticated and dynamic mobile phone marketplace was and is fraught. It was an expensive lesson for Amazon and Bezos – more than $US200 million. And yet there were no or few regrets. The lessons learnt were invaluable a unique KPI (key performance indicator).

Amazon has moved on from Fire phones.

Significantly, those involved in the design, manufacture, distribution, wholesaling and retailing of the failure were encouraged to keep thinking big. Risk tolerance was resilient. Risk aversion was discouraged.

This is an encouraging cultural value which persists in the midst of coronavirus. In such circumstances culture does eat strategy for breakfast.


Think big has been embraced by an Australian national radio station network as its positioning statement. Upon reflection and on balance, question could be put to whether it is a projection of the belief of the broadcaster or exultation for, and to its listeners.

There is no consistent, universal evidence of programming and programs which characterise the term Think Big.

Positioning statements should, indeed must, reflect core values.

Amazon’s abiding belief in, and adherence to, the Think Big philosophy is reflected in its commitments to the development of electric powered motor vehicles and space travel, to name just a few of its creative initiatives.


In commerce, failure is often a relative rather than an absolute measure.
Slower, inert management and leadership teams tend to be sensitive and reflective to even small scale and limited numbers of failures, and suboptimal performance initiatives and endeavours. Consequential costs seem large in a restricted, relatively static portfolio.

Not a lot has changed over decades. Products and services powerhouse 3M prided itself in having at least 60% of its product/service range having been introduced to the marketplace within the previous five years, at all times. This was dynamism personified and was a key driving force, before “disruption” became fashionable and a mantra for entrepreneurs and start-up business leaders.

Individual concept, product and service failures were deemed to be incidental and stepping stones to bigger things in an ongoing journey, which dictated, that all and sundry moved on.

The same principles apply to small and medium sized enterprises. It’s simply a matter of scale. Significantly, scalability applies to growth, contraction and application. Lessons have relevance and benefits, regardless of size.


Fast fashion has superseded many of the established philosophies and practices of traditional ‘bricks ‘n’ mortar’ fashion retailers.

Stock-turns (a true and accurate measure of business performance based on the rate of turnover of inventories) have accelerated.

Failures and underperformance of stock items and styles are registered, analysed and rapidly archived. The focus is on volume, velocity and productivity.

The bottom-line is typically, profitable. Margins may be squeezed, but more than compensated by appealing cash-flows.


Playing at the edges is usually time-consuming. Doing lots of things does not ensure substantive outcomes. There is enormous evidence of such at present. In contrast, being edgy suggests agitation, provocation and assertiveness. Such attitudes and actions attract attention, interest and interactions, particularly when alternative and competitive initiatives are sparse.

Risk need not, and seldom is a consideration. Promoting and packaging presence are initial steps in business development initiatives.

Some sayings in commerce are ageless. Remember:
Fortune Favours the Brave

It is the translation of a Latin proverb, which has a long history of use in the military, and throughout the Anglo-Saxon world, as a motto for families and clans. It recognises that fear is the most inhibiting of factors.


Upon reflection, the most prevalent and dominant constraints on the economic well-being of businesses are established policies, practices and processes.

Innovative, creative and entrepreneurs have recognised that in the current pandemic-affected environment and marketplace there are no rules. “Open-minds” accept that scenario as an open invitation to make one’s own rules. As such, value judgements and comparative analyses are somewhat meaningless.

The metrics which measure performance aligned to, think big, fail fast, move on,
are hard to qualify.

So, “do your best, and try for better”.

You’re on your way.

Barry Urquhart
Managing Director
Marketing Focus
M:        041 983 5555